The World Justice Project’s 2014 Rule of Law Index has just been published. Based on data collected from over 100,000 households and experts (including RoLIA CEO Kate Burns and Board member Nicholas Cowdery AM QC), it ranks 99 countries in terms of a range of rule of law indictors that measure constraints on government powers, absence of corruption, open government, fundamental rights, order and security, regulatory enforcement, civil justice and criminal justice. This treasure trove of data can be mined for a wide range of purposes such as designing social programs, evaluating investment risk and tracking rule of law performance over time.
Australia ranks 8 out of the 99 countries overall, beaten by Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Austria. While that is mostly good news, there are a few worrying trends. Constraints on government powers are going down, meaning fewer checks on the use of executive powers as is regulatory enforcement, although both measures are still described as “effective”.
According to the 2014 Report, “The civil courts are efficient and independent, although access to legal counsel remains limited, particularly for disadvantaged groups … The country ranks 10th in the world in protecting fundamental rights but lags behind other high income countries in guaranteeing equal treatment and non-discrimination, especially for immigrants and low-income people”.